Dirt, Sweat, And The Smell of Sheep

Christmas is known for nativity scenes.   A stable, a manger, Joseph, Mary, barnyard animals, and wise men.  Yet, when you read the Christmas story from Luke’s Gospel – you don’t get wise men.   Rather, Luke gives us shepherds.

It only makes sense that Luke gives us shepherds instead of wise men. Luke is the gospel for the outcast. He focuses our attention to the powerless, the poor, the sinners, the left out and left behind.

Luke gives us the Good Samaritan, the Prodigal Son, the Woman who washes Jesus’ feet with her tears.  Plus many other stories and teachings that bring a smile to the downtrodden.

In Luke’s Gospel the angelic announcement doesn’t come to educated and wealthy wise men.  It comes to men sleeping in the nearby fields. Men covered in dirt, sweat, and smelling of sheep.

The Lord could have delivered the angelic announcement to anyone, anywhere. He chose shepherds in the nearby fields. Their reaction teaches us a great deal.

Do yourself a favor and read Luke 2:8-20. 

The angel appeared to shepherds living out in the nearby fields. The shepherds responded to the news of the angel immediately: “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” Upon reaching their destination, the shepherds told everyone about the birth of the Savior. Eventually they returned home, glorifying and praising God.

It’s a pretty simple story but one worthy of imitation.  Let’s break the lessons learned from the shepherds down to the nuts and bolts.


Hear

Hear.

How do we hear the voice of the Lord?  A few important ways:

  • Scripture
  • Prayer
  • Christian Community

You know the popular expression: If you aim at nothing you will hit it every time.  Invest time in Scripture, prayer, and Christian community.  Come up with a plan and work it.

Scripture

  • What will you read?
  • When will you read it?

Prayer

  • What will you pray for?
  • When will you pray?

Christian community

  • Who holds you accountable?
  • Who do you hold accountable?
  • Who speaks into your life?

Obey

Obey. 

What good is hearing from God if you choose disobedience over obedience.

Let me share a warning that I heard from someone wiser than me.  (I’ve repeated it enough that I will soon take over ownership).

Reading the Bible is dangerous.  It is dangerous in two different ways.  First, reading the Bible is dangerous because you might read it and it changes everything.  Your priorities get flipped upside down.  Your comfort zone gets destroyed.  You find yourself doing and saying things you never imagined.  That’s dangerous.  Second, reading the Bible is dangerous because you might read it and develop the habit of doing nothing.  That’s extremely dangerous.

I would expand that idea to also include prayer and Christian community.

ShareShare.

You shouldn’t hoard the lessons you learn from the Lord.  Your spiritual life should not be an episode of Hoarders.

Share and share often.

I know this is difficult for the shy and introverted types.  Let me break it down a little more.  Here are three easy step to get you started.  We all love three easy steps.

  • Step One:  What has God taught you in the last 6 months?
  • Step Two: Think about your answer. Get it down to a few sentences.
  • Step Three:  Share it often.

PraisePraise.

This one should come easy if you are following through the other steps.  Getting your hands dirty in the things of God leads to praise.  The more you experience God the more you realize the small role you play.

Acknowledge God in all things.

Lift God above all things.


Let us follow the example of the shepherds.

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